Archive for December, 2012
I’ve just wrote somewhere else (Ok, I confess, it was on Facebook), that the only advantage of the future is that it hasn’t happened yet.
In these emotional days, we tend to assess of our actions in the past year, and dream of what our wishes are for the year to come. And when imagining next year, we might also remember when we were kids …
Ohhhh when we were kids!!!
That time of life when it seems we knew happiness…. But to me, nothing farther from reality. I don’t have that sense of longing childhood, in fact, sometimes I think I would have liked to have some dose of adulthood in my childhood, for being too naive.
Our childhood is that period of our lives, when we believe in amazing things: that super-heroes can fly, that everything has magic, that the world is full of fantastic stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the world IS FULL OF FANTASTIC STUFF. But that stuff is totally different from the one we thought of back then.
When we wish we could keep some vision, spontaneity and creativity we had when kids, of course we are not referring to the naivety of:
– Believing everything we are told
– Obeying every instruction we are given
– Mom and Dad are the best parents in the world
– My Dad is stronger than yours
– Santa Claus exists and he is an old white-bearded man that leaves gifts to children all over the world in the fireplace of every home (although I never had a fireplace at home, and yet, he would come every Christmas).
– I’m the good one, you are the bad one
So if you think some (or all) of these clichés of our childhood are somehow still present in our grown-up society, please be my guest and start dismantling the scenery, and changing the attrezzo for real things instead.
But I have to be honest with you: I still believe in something that’s only in my imagination: that we, citizens all over the world, get connected in an open network, so at any time, we might be able to act together.
No leaders, no followers.
So let’s not blog just for sharing our writings, our art, our thoughts. Let’s blog to be really connected. Let’s build a worldwide chain.
Let’s wake up, and start designing our world, instead of just wishing a different one.
Let 2013 be a year for action, not dreams.
When thinking about “bonsai”, I usually had the image of small scale trees, in small scale containers. However, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a bonsai museum in Madrid, and I was totally astonished to find out that the reduced size of those beautiful trees was only just a small part of the Art/technique.
The bonsai techniques ranges from the reduction of the tree, to the shaping in the most amazing forms of the plant, by different means. Seems that the final end of this tradition, is the reproduction of natural scenes at small scales, but what drew my attention is the effects of these techniques on the plants. By means of different proceedures, “… like pruning, root reduction, potting, defoliation, and grafting to produce small trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-size trees.” (source: Wikipedia).
It was also shocking to me, to realize that the same culture that celebrates the accidental killing of insects after the sowing of rice, can “torture” this way a living being, just for aesthetic pleasure (no practical end is intended in bonsai).
Seems to me that this art/practice/technique is somehow against the natural evolution of the plant, but even then, that’s not what I dislike the most of it: it’s the fact that all these obstacles the plant comes across in its growth, are being put on purpose, so its’ appearance changes according exclusively, to the bonsai executor wishes.
I don’t know whether the plant suffers or not, but seeing branches twisted by wires, sticks, threads, and all kind of elements put there to mould the small tree, looks quite like a struggle for survival to me. In any case, it’s definitely not the way the plant would grow if left alone. In the end, this shaping of the plant, is ironically a distortion from its’ own natural shape.
So, if you visit a bonsai museum next time, pay attention.
You might feel you are stepping in a Hall of Mirrors.
New Year is near (haha, sounds nice…).
Time to frame resolutions.
You might not achieve your resolutions, but if you don’t even think about them, where to focus your energy, to spend your efforts, forget it, you’ll never get there by chance.
So, what’s our purpose in life?
We can have the mystical approach and think that we are part of Nature, of Life as a universal force, that has no owner but God (ok, I’ll give you that one), that we are just a tiny grain of sand in a giant and magnificent dune. That we share that genetic code together with the rest of the Universe, being it minerals, plants or animals.
But the thing is that I would like to ask you a question:
Would you resign so easily your life, if you were told that it’s not Nature or the Universe you’re contributing to, but the huge, immense bank accounts of a few, instead? Even the most basic structures in Nature, struggle for the survival of the species and not the individuals. We are the only species on Earth, that have perverted this principle. Contain your rage, we are coming to a very special time of the year… Let’s give it a second (and calmer) thought.
I’m quite happy with my two purposes for 2013, one personal, the other social:
1.- Keep it simple, and starting to achieve my purpose, that’s it.
2.- I’ll rather live fighting than die acquiescing. And now, again, back to purpose 1.
I have a gift for you, although many of you might have probably seen it already.
THIS IS WHAT OUR LIVES ARE ABOUT:
I think I can count at least up to ten times since 2008, that someone posted the famous quote from Albert Einstein, saying that crisis are a blessing. That’s a lot to say, considering I’m talking about the same quote, from the same person, among my acquaintances.
I confess I feel awkward about that quote, the same as some people who consider cancer as a blessing, or a gift.
What’s more, I feel controversial and I would like to state and bring to debate, to what extent these two exemplary speeches mean what they mean.
I’ll start by saying that to me, they only and exclusively relate to the individual context. There’s no possible way that we could wish that the more people get cancer the better, under the logic that the experience will strengthen their souls and teach them to appreciate life even more, and in a better way.
Of course we are all doing our best to succeed in the current crisis context, but that SHOULDN’T BE THE POINT.
Social matters cannot be addressed under the same approach as individual ones. Because, as I exposed recently to a friend regarding an interview to Jonas Salk, you cannot apply models and frames of knowledge from one field to the other, i.e.: from cellular level to the human body as a unit, and from the human body to the social body as a whole. The levels of complexity are infinitely larger in the latter than in the previous one.
What experience does society build from crisis like WWI, WWII, the Holocaust (are Jews far richer in experience because of the Holocaust?)?
Because under this scope, any evil will be for good, and the more we are subject to bad stuff, the better we’ll become.
That’s why there’s more crime in the rich neighbourhoods of the city, and more criminals among the high classes (I’m being ironic, although we know that’s exactly how things go), than in the suburbs and between poor and desperate people.
We know perfectly well, which are the ways our society established for those in the lower segments of its’ body, to strive and succeed, under the current rules:
– Sports in the university (the only way to be kept in that exclusive circle, for families without enough income)
– Show Business (if you hit the lights, and you make it, without any studies or trade, nor career or profession).
Because in the end, the question is how a society manages to give equal opportunities to all its members, not saying give money, but the chance to get as much progress as he or she wants, as far as it only depends on his or her efforts.
So, it turns out that crisis act like a valve, and when a society starts lacking of resources, these are directed to very specific areas, to support particularly selected strategies. As for the rest, it becomes quite: “Run for your life”.
To say that crisis are beneficial is equal to say that Walter Benjamin concerns on Experience and Poverty after WWI, were absolutely unfounded. And all his writings on the barbarism and anti-humanism of the Holocaust, are also diminished, for those were nothing but stepping stones for our progress as human society (yes, that storm that keep pushing the angel into the future).
Let’s go back to Jonas Salk for a minute. Let’s remember and keep in mind that vaccines’ success depends on the dose. If you apply the vaccine in excess you will surely be inducing the disease to the patient, which is exactly the opposite outcome to your purpose (right?).
Are you telling me that this crisis is being applied in precise and measured doses, so the social body can build its own defenses, that the whole of the social body will come out even stronger? Or it will be that SOME OF US, will be stronger at the cost of TOO MANY MADE REDUNDANT?
We know too, that you cannot fight any issue without facing it: it is impossible to find the cure to a disease, without addressing the disease. We will not overcome this crisis, if we don’t deal with its’ causes, its’ facts and its’ consequences.
Unless we just want to get over it alone. Yes, that way, you will survive. But I seriously doubt there might be anybody to congratulate you for your success.
One last thing, and honestly, I don’t know exactly what it might mean and why these thoughts comes to my mind:
Albert Einstein was a man within the system. He died at the age of 76, due to an internal bleeding caused by the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Jonas Salk was too, a man within the system. Died at 80, from heart failure.
Walter Benjamin killed himself while escaping from the nazis when he was 48. John Lennon (another fighter for peace and against the stupid system) was killed at 40, by a – supposed – lunatic.
I’m not saying you should commit suicide. I’m just saying stop fooling yourself .
A friend told me in these recent days: “Jesus is not the point. We are the point”. Brilliant.
I’d add: loving Jesus, is not the point, but loving each other is THE point.
Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself”, and instead, we’ve been loving him, for more than 2.000 years. Thus, we are at least, 2.000 years delayed. All this fuss about his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection, even the fact if he was or not “GOD”, is completely irrelevant.
He meant to show us the way, and just like the dumb-ass that stares at the finger of the smart guy pointing at the moon, we’ve just built a church around his image, created rites about the events of his life, mourned his death, and asked for our sins to be forgiven.
He is said to have died for our sins. That is: SINS and GUILT are at the base of Christian concept of life. Then you add a father figure and there you are: the perfect alibi.
Let’s be serious. Like Kittywoo, in the recent post I’ve just translated, praising simple things (almost invisible), close to us, in our everyday life. That’s the hardest part of life, not to feel the joy for the birth, nor the pain for the death of Christ.
I have never understood the pilgrims (with all respect). Pilgrimage (like some sort of penitence), is empty of value for the soul. The best sacrifice you can make to improve your soul, is improve your everyday life, your routines if you want: the shout you don’t give, the trick you don’t play on your brother, the wooden branch you don’t break, the thing you don’t buy, the lie you don’t tell (couldn’t be simpler, many of them are NOT doing things….).
Let’s start to think that even the smallest action of ours, will make not only our lives, but the whole world a better, or a worse place.
Which was the last action of yours, that wasn’t guided by your own purposes, your own benefit, your own survival?
Some days ago, one of my eyes was overflying a bookshelf of my living room like that, with no purpose, and just with no purpose landed on Masuji Ibuse’s “Black Rain”, fabulous book which relates the consequences the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima had on people.
And in spite of the chilling plot and the details, I actually focused on a different thing. It turns out that I prefer to read pencil in hand since I like underlining and, sometimes, making notes on the side, on phrases that particularly have drawn my attention. But I don’t always have a pencil at hand, and in order not to break the pace of the reading I don’t get up to fetch one; thus many of the interesting stuff I’d like to remember later, remain unmarked and that’s precisely why most of things I do mark, are highlighted double.
That’s how it happened when I grabbed “Black Rain” from the shelf, I realized I had marked a page and, opening the book at that page, I found myself with the following:
“The ceremony for the dead insects was a rite that would take place two days after the festival for the sowing of rice; the farmers would make rice tarts as oblation for the souls of the dead insects which they had crushed without noticing while working the fields. The tradition also required, that same day too, all objects neighbours could have lent each other, would be given back.”
It’s not that I had underlined, at that moment, this paragraph that I know it was, among the rest of paragraphs on the same page, about this one, I know myself and know me, and when I glimpsed at it, I immediately reckoned, on a “clean” page, that it was the ceremony for the dead insects what I didn’t want to forget. Because it seems to me we are nuts, that we lost direction, that we are going like zombies from religious celebration to religious celebration, that even the true believers have forgotten the sense of their rites. Human being cannot assess anymore what’s important from what is not, the human being walks sad – and lone-er than he thinks himself to be- on earth, down a one-way street, full of signals, playing treasure hunt competitions that others have organized to keep him entertained and busy. They tell us: “dunnowho did that, and that’s why he is a martir” and we canonize him and then raise prayers to Heaven, and want to be like him, but not be him because he died and we don’t want to sacrifice ourselves, to find in the end there’s no Heaven and our prayers would not get anywhere, or even worse, when we think already got there, any prayer would reach us. Us-us-us-us-us and a mirror on which, the only thing we practically see reflected, is the poster of a movie that features Julia Roberts or the fifty millions of abominable shadows of blahblahblah.
What happened with common sense? Where’s that precious and simple respect for third and fourth parties? One cannot avoid shaking one’s head as if stretching oneself from a dream and wonder why is everything so absurd, how is it that living so simply is so complicated, how could we have allowed this … how is it we are so resigned, so obedient, paying so little attention to manipulation, so reliant on the “amen”. I want to go back to that of ceremonies for small things; if there’s a God –whichever it might be, it’s the same to me – that’s where it should be, if there’s a universal knowledge, it’s there where it genesis lies. The ceremony for the dead insects seems to me, I tell you the truth, of a vital relevance: I don’t think I could respect third and fourth parties if I don’t start by the praise of the untouchable ones. It seems to me it’s logical, beautiful, complete in its simplicity, I would like to explain it to the offspring I don’t have and celebrate it every year; actually, nothing prevents me from doing so, but the lack of understanding and rejection from my pairs but ¿what to do? Tagged as “weirdy” I move myself a bit farther and search support and complicity among my loved ones: my wonderful network of intelligent and interesting beings. And that’s why this year we close our eyes to Christmas celebrations and, finally will open the Solstice celebration when we’ll practice all pagan rites and we’ll laugh and do all that stuff you really do, when you find the sense and flavor to what they say it’s called “being”. There’s no sense in not searching the sensible and the senseless. The only way is to question the world and make it at our OWN image and likeness. But hey! the real one. The real one, not the one reflected in the mirror.